Concerns over smart meter fires hit Ontario

By: The Canadian Press

 | Aug 07, 2014 - 3:32 PM |
TORONTO - Ontario's governing Liberals say they don't know yet whether smart meters linked to nine fires in Saskatchewan were installed in Ontario homes.

However, they say the province's largest electricity distributor — publicly owned Hydro One — doesn't use the same brand of smart meters.

They're still investigating whether more than 70 other local distribution companies in the province installed meters made by U.S.-based manufacturer Sensus.

The government says more than 4.78 million residential and small business customers in Ontario have a smart meter.

The province says it's not removing any of the devices yet, but will monitor what Saskatchewan is doing.

The Liberals say the cause of the fires hasn't been determined and it may be traced back to the meter base or how it was installed.

Sensus has said it has conducted lab tests and site inspections at the recent incidents and the results so far indicate that some of the fires were caused by holes in the meter boxes that allowed water in, or by power surges.

Ontario's New Democrats are pushing the government for answers, saying they've had a week to investigate whether Sensus meters were installed.

"It's imperative that the minister act quickly to find out whether we have these meters and have them removed immediately before somebody does get hurt or before somebody's home burns down," said NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky.

SaskPower plans to remove all 105,000 of its smart meters. Utilities in Philadelphia and Oregon have also decided to remove smart meters made by Sensus.

Safety concerns have also been raised in British Columbia, but the government says it's not aware of any problems with its smart meters, which are manufactured by Itron Inc., based in Washington state.

A smart meter records consumption of electric energy in small intervals and can relay the information electronically to a power company. It eliminates the need to estimate bills when a meter reader can't do a check on site.

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